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Victory 20

Event ID: 161

14 February 1917

50.45697680258203, 2.8229973925919714
West of Loos

Source ID: 13

Under the guns of the Red Baron, Norman Franks, Hal Giblin and Nigel McCrery

ISBN: 9781898697275

Combat Report: 1200 hrs. BE two-seater. Lens-Hulloch road, west of Loos. Occupants: one killed, the other severely wounded. Name of pilot: Lieutenant Bonnet (died). No details concerning plane, as wreckage landed in the fire zone. After flying back from a conference with Jasta Boelcke, I spotted an enemy artillery flyer at a height of 2.000 metres, west of Loos. I attacked the enemy and approached him unnoticed to some 50 metres. After several hundred shots, the plane dashed down, falling into our trenches. The pilot was killed in the air, observer seriously injured when landing. Weather: fine.

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  1. source: Inside the victories of Manfred von richthofen – Volume 1, James F. Miller, Aeronaut Books, 2016

    Richthofen does not state the make/model/ serial number of the airplane he flew during this sortie. Identification is tenuous because Idflieg’s grounding of all Albatros D.IIIs was still in effect and remained so until 19 February, until wing inspections, reinforcements and load tests had demonstrated a more satisfactory level of structural integrity. However, it seems that once an Albatros was repaired or reinforced it was returned to flight status on an individual basis, prior to the official rescinding of the grounding. This is based on RFC records that reveal several Albatros D.IIIs were shot down and captured while the grounding was still in effect. Regarding Richthofen’s Albatros D.III, by the 14 February sortie it had been three full weeks since Le Petit Rouge suffered its “cracked” wing. Although speculative it is well possible and even likely that during those 21 days its failed lower wing had been replaced and the other wing reinforced, or possibly also replaced.

    Support favoring Richthofen flying an Albatros is based on his description of firing “several hundred” shots, which if one considers “several hundred” to be at least 700 would exceed the 500-bullet capacity of the Halberstadt. Yet “several hundred” is an inexact figure dependent upon an individual’s perception of the definition, so it cannot be used to exclude use of a Halberstadt. Regardless, this work leans toward Richthofen’s use of an Albatros D.III.

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